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Bonner & Bonner Diversity Lecture Series


Bill Strickland

Bill Strickland

The Art of Leadership and the Business of Social Change

Bill Stickland's simple message – give people the tools they need, treat them with respect, and they will perform miraculous deeds – is as simple as it is profound.

From a sleeping bag on the second floor of a dilapidated building he built one of the most extraordinary organizations in America, employing and training thousands. His work has brought him a MacArthur Genius grant, a Grammy award, an invitation to lecture at Harvard University, and a seat on the board of the National Endowment for the Arts.

A compelling and powerful storyteller, he mesmerizes audiences, and brings them to their feet in appreciation. His simple message of believing in people and treating them with respect strikes a universal chord. Let Bill teach and inspire you to see the real person, and harness the power of believing in people.

Extraordinary Community Leader

Through the power of his vision, the consistency of his purpose, and an undying belief in the goodness of human beings, Bill Strickland has transformed thousands of lives, restored our faith in ethical leadership, and reshaped the business of social change. Through his leadership as president> and CEO of the Manchester Bidwell Corporation he created an extraordinary jobs training center and community arts program to give disadvantaged kids and adults the opportunities they need to build a better future. Strickland and his staff turned this near bankrupt community training center in Pittsburgh into one of the most successful organizations in America. Building on that success, new centers have been built in Cincinnati, San Francisco, and Grand Rapids, Michigan.

For years Strickland has shared with audiences across the country, his unshakable message of leadership, self-worth and the intrinsic ability in all of us to achieve remarkable transformation in our lives. "Bill Strickland is a genius," says e-Bay founder and former president, Jeff Skoll, "because he sees the inherent genius in everyone."

His many awards and accolades include the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship "genius" grant and the "Coming Up Taller" Award presented to him by former first lady Hillary Clinton. Strickland also is the Founder of the Manchester Craftsman Guild and Jazz series, the longest running and most successful jazz subscription series in America, which has produced over 1200 concerts and garnered three Grammys.

More importantly, his accomplishments as a leader and humanitarian are reflected in the thousands of people who have raised themselves out of poverty and into the world of full-time employment, through the organizations that Strickland built. One of the first to feature Strickland's work was Fast Company magazine, whose founding editor, William Taylor, wrote, "Bill Strickland is quite simply one of the most inspiring human beings and one of the most mesmerizing speakers I have ever met. Not because his is brash or boastful, but because he uses his authentic personality to communicate a powerful message of change, hope, and making a difference. His voice is the right voice for these confusing and difficult times."

Strickland will inspire you to make a difference; in your life and in the lives of those around you. He delivers a profoundly simple, optimistic message for leaders: give people the tools they need, treat> them with respect, and they will perform miraculous deeds. He also delves into his story of hope; of how a kid from Pittsburgh's ghetto would go on to lecture at Harvard and serve on the board of the national Endowment of the Arts and of his meeting with a pottery teacher who would change is life. Throughout, he shares his powerful set of beliefs; for example, that we all make ourselves "poor" in one way or another when we accept that we are not smart, experienced, or talented enough to accomplish something. "A successful life is not something you simply pursue – it is something that you create, moment by moment."

Strickland, along with Vince Rause, is the author of "Make the Impossible Possible, One Man's Crusade to Inspire Others to Dream Bigger and Achieve the Extraordinary."


Bill Strickland
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Albert Taylor Hall in Plumb Hall
on the Emporia State University Campus
7:00 p.m.